Genesee County Experiencing Syphilis Outbreak

Contact: James McCurtis (517) 241-2112
Agency: Community Health

November 7, 2008

During 2008, Genesee County, including the city of Flint, has been experiencing a significant syphilis outbreak. The number of reported cases has surpassed 100, representing the largest number of syphilis cases in the county's history in the last 30 years.

The Michigan Department of Community Health (MDCH), STD Program, has been working closely with Genesee County officials to intervene in the spread of infection. Efforts to conduct rapid surveillance and case investigation, along with targeted screening and education, have resulted in effective management of newly reported cases. Genesee County has a unique Communicable Disease Investigation Response Team (C-DIRT), which has effectively initiated, monitored, and evaluated control efforts.

Recently, five cases of congenital syphilis have been identified, and are being closely managed. This occurs when a woman is infected during pregnancy and is not adequately treated. As a result, local officials immediately distributed enhanced CDC and MDCH guidelines for syphilis screening during pregnancy and at delivery.

Although county and state public health officials have seen a decrease in the number of new case reports, indicating the outbreak is slowing, efforts still need to be sustained in order to successfully end the outbreak. It is imperative that medical providers of Genesee and surrounding counties remain diligent in their efforts to identify, diagnose, and treat cases of syphilis and that area residents continue to be screened if they are at risk of infection.

For more information, contact Kristine Judd, MDCH Administrative Program Manger, Sexually Transmitted Disease Section, at (313) 456-4426 or juddk@michigan.gov, or Mark Valacak, Director, Community Health Division, Genesee County Health Department at (810) 257-3812.